Technoparc Montréal - Quebec, Canada

Technoparc, Montréal – Canada

Hi Folks,

Visiting Montreal in Canada, what a way to finish the year!

Wayne Gretzky, Neil Young, Pamela Anderson, Jim Carrey, Leonard Cohen, William Shatner and Scotty, Ben Johnson, Mike Myers, Steve Nash, Keanu Reeves, Jacques Villeneuve and many, many others were given to the world by the generous people of Canada, or more formally the Democratic People’s Republic of Canada. And how did the world respond to the generosity of the Canadians. Well, quite well I would say. In return a Canadian random dude named Kyle Broflovski was given one of the leading parts in a super popular TV-series South Park.

One might wonder what is left in Canada when the stars in all areas of life have left from there. That’s a fair question and deserves an answer. Not much I guess. There’s still Technoparc Montréal, it’s kind of cool if you are into all kind of weird things like science. But please be a responsible adult (even in Canada), try protecting your children from science or they may end up like Jesse Pinkman.

– Gart

Dingwall, Scotland

Dingwall – Scotland

Hi Folks,

In the Highlands of Scotland you may still hear the echo of Sir William Wallace’s voice: “… they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… our freedom! Or maybe it was Sir Wallace’s squire Mel Gibson who used those inspiring words. It’s difficult to remember all the details precisely after over 700 years. Sir Wallace and Mr. Gibson spent many of their holidays in Dingwall which is even today one of Scotland’s main attractions – plenty to do and a lot to see, if it is not raining. Sir Wallace was appointed as the Guardian of Scotland but later hanged, drawn and quartered. A quarter may have been buried in Dingwall, although very little evidence is available to support this theory.

About two hundred years before the time of Sir Wallace, Macbeth – King of Scotland – was born in Dingwall. Later on a certain historian William Shakespeare made Macbeth famous in his research with a working-title The Tragedy of Macbeth. I understood from Shakespeare’s report the tragedy having been that Macbeth was slain and beheaded. I heard a rumor from some quite trustworthy looking fella in the Mallard, the most prominent tavern of Dingwall, that Macbeth’s head may have also been buried in there.

Dingwall – what a history, what a place!

– Gart

National Art Museum of Catalonia - Barcelona

National Art Museum of Catalonia – Barcelona

Hi Folks,

Culture in Catalonia is beyond me. Messi, Neymar, Suárez… In Catalonia the work of the best known contemporary artists may be viewed at Camp Nou, the home stadium of FC Barcelona. Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Spain by capacity, yet it’s too small for the greatnesses performing in it. In addition to football the Catalonians take Roman Catholicism quite seriously. Sagrada Família, a Catholic church in Barcelona, has been under construction since 1882. I heard from some Catalonians that they want to make sure that the Church will be large enough for the greatness that will perform there once the church is completed. Fair enough, I guess it would be dumb to repeat the mistake they made with Camp Nou. Regrettable I didn’t ask who will be the main performed. Some say that Messi is the greatest – could it be he’s signed a contract to appear also in Sagrada Família?

The huge palace in the photo is National Art Museum of Catalonia (abbreviation MNAC). MNAC is dedicated to Catalan art and design from the 19th and 20th centuries. At least the curators of MNAC have plenty of space. MNAC is the perfect spot to hang out they day after FC Barcelona’s game. Here’s an idea: why not sell combo tickets that would allow an entry to Camp Nou and also to MNAC. If the order is double sized, a tour around the construction site of Sagrada Família would be included.

– Gart

Oriental Pearl Tower - Shanghai

Oriental Pearl Tower – Shanghai

Hi Folks!

Ai Weiwei’s exhibition inspired me to visit Shanghai in the People’s Republic of China. In the 90’s “Made in China” was a label for a cheap product with moderate quality standards. Oriental Pearl Tower was completed in 1994. I do now know whether the tower was cheap but considering the facts that it was built in the 90’s and that it is “Made in China”, I was not surprised to find out that the tower leans at an angle of c. 10 degrees. In Europe a major construction work was screwed up in a similar manner about 700 years ago in Pisa, Italy. But I guess you learn only from your own mistakes. As I was looking at the peak of the Oriental Pearl Tower in it’s majestic height at 468 m, I got a bit dizzy in my head. Luckily a friendly officer (see the pic below) offered me his services, confiscated my bottle of huangjiu and escorted me to a night shelter. Shanghai is great and so was my headache the morning after.

– Gart


Shanghai security officer


Through - Ai Weiwei

Through – Ai Weiwei

Hi Folks,

Pillars penetrating tables is Ai Weiwei’s (艾 未未) comment, or even criticism, on structures of power. The art piece is titled Through (2007). Weiwei is a super star in contemporary art and he is known worldwide for his art and his political activism, which are often a combination of both. Weiwei has especially criticized Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights and you bet it has not made his life any easier in China. It is also common knowledge that he is a hard rock fan but you are mistaken if you thought that Chinese Democracy (2008) is his favorite album. He is actually more into older psychedelic rock. The release of the Door’s first single Break on Through (To the Other Side) in 1967, changed Weiwei’s life permanently. The baseline that Ray Manzarek summoned probably on his Fender Rhodes PianoBass and the deep, magical voice of Jim Morrison influenced 10-year-old boy’s take on life and he absorbed the perfect rock n’ roll attitude that only his peers on Sunset Boulevard, in L.A. were aware of in the 60’s. And against all the odds, Weiwei has been able to break on through despite all the obstacles the infidel authorities have laid on his path. And this is my and Neil Young’s  message to you, Ai: keep on rockin’ in the free world.

– Gart

Arlington National Cemetery - Virginia

Arlington National Cemetery – Virginia

Hi Folks,

Not since World War II have there been so many refugees or IDPs as there is today. The crisis is huge and it’s global. People leave their homes for different reasons. For some, it’s the global warming that’s forcing them to seek for safety. For many, it’s the usual reason – wars and violent crisis – that leaves no option but to flee. During the past few months the Syrian refugees have been in the headlines on several occasions as they try to sail across the Mediterranean Sea in unstable rafts to get away from ISIS’ territory. And many of the unfortunate ones have met their death in the royal blue waves.

The EU seems to be too lost in the political quarrelling to do enough for the people who are in need for immediate help. EU’s member states argue on refugee quotas and the right-wing populist groups mess up the debate in a way that it’s sometimes difficult to know what we are talking about here: (i) defending of “national interests” defined by some pinheads OR (ii) helping people whose life, health or human dignity is in threat.

So what are we left here with. Do we have to call USA for help, again(?). I guess we do eventually. The rows of white headstones in Arlington National Cemetery already continue as far as an eye can see, so a non-military solution would be greatly appreciated. Arlington, United States military cemetery is located in Virginia and it is not the most cheerful landmark. But it’s certainly worth a visit. Arlington National Cemetery is a convincing reminder of the costs of a war. Could the troops stay home this time?

– Gart

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Square – Vatican City State

Hi Folks,

In The Big Lebowski (1998) the Dude himself asked: “Does the Pope sh#t in the woods?” The Dude is a pretty sophisticated guy. After all, there’s a fairly large group of people who follow Dudeism, which has grown from an underground cult to a world religion. But he clearly does not know where the holiness does his business. Or could it be that the Dude says open questions intentionally in order to encourage his followers to find out for themselves. Well, I was a little bit spontaneous and I did travel to the Vatican City State. I did not meet the Pope (he was not home), but I found out this: there are no forests in Vatican City. There’s St. Peter’s Square (photo above), St. Peter’s Basilica (photo below) and some gardens, but no woods! So there’s the answer to the Dude’s question.

While in Vatican, I realized something quite peculiar. Both the Pope and the Dude know this guy called Jesus. Small World, not to mention Vatican City Sate which is super tiny (110 acres, population c. 850, smallest internationally recognized independent state by both area and population). Anyway, Jesus is one of the most quoted men. Thereby, I feel that quoting Jesus Quintana is the only proper way to end this post:

“Nobody f###s with the Jesus!”

– Gart


Vatican City State, St. Peter's Basilica from inside

Lily & Co - Julian Opie

Lily & Co – Julian Opie

Hi Folks!

Julian Opie is a virtuoso of contemporary art. Viewing his work leaves you wondering, what the heck did I just see: a reference to art history with a link to tomorrow or just a road sign. These beauties are Lily (2014), Delphine 1 (2013), Finn (2014) and Reed 1 (2013). And of course I am there as well, showing my best side as always. In case you were wondering, Lily is my favorite and for no good reason; she just is. If I did not know that these are Julian Opie’s sculptures, I would guess that Donald Draper has finally had one too many, been fired from his job and established a career as a sculptor. Don certainly could have made it as an artist or preferably as an art-person whose public persona could not always be told apart from his art-work. But Julian is different from these geezers. With Julian there is no public persona but only his art. Just try typing Julian on google pic search. Or don’t bother because there are no photos of Julian. If the saying “picture or it didn’t happen” has any truth in it, then Julian Opien must be an alias. By the way, if you were considering to google pictures on Lily, you should understand that it is “not safe for work”. Stay safe, I’m going to the Vatican!


Stasi leader Erich Mielke's office

Stasi museum – Berlin, Germany

Hi Folks!

Right after the Second World War things got complicated for the whole world as the Cold War begun. Germany was split into two: east and west. And so begun the short history of East Germany, or formally German Democratic Republic.

East Germany’s ideology was Marxism-Leninism-Satanic with strong scent of communism and other fishy stuff from Soviet Union (I can’t remember where I read this but I’m sure it was a reliable source). In East Germany the ruling power thought that it needed “protection” and established Stasi, a security service which was unique in its own way. Here’s a few complimentary facts for you:

Stasi (Staatssicherheit, State Security), officially The Ministry for State Security (MfS) was the official state security service of German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1950 to 1990.

Stasi used means out of this world. It had unrestrained access to everywhere and it spied, threatened and tortured people randomly. Stasi employed officially over 90 000 people at its final stages. But we can only guess how many people carried out tasks for Stasi although they were not on the payroll. In East Germany neighbors literally spied each other and reported the peculiarities to Stasi. Just imagine if your neighbor spied on you. I bet it would not take that long until they would spot something to report – especially if your neighbor had been promised a reward.

But the world changes. When the iron curtain collapsed it was the end of history (thank you Mr. Fukuyama for articulating the clever thought). Communism is so last season in Germany. And today Stasi headquarters serves as a museum.

In the picture above you can see Stasi leader, master of the tin foil hats, Erich Mielke’s office untouched. Ok, to be accurate, the office was untouched until my visit. Erich left the building in a hurry and forgot his three smart phones on the desk. Could there be a more obvious invitation to abuse Erich’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.


Stasi leader Erich Mielke's photo

Stasi leader Erich Mielke

Stasi headquarters

Stasi headquarters

Pietà - Michelangelo

Pietà – Michelangelo

Hi Folks!

This is a pietà, and not just any pietà but the one that was sculpted by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The most interesting thing about this work of art is that the sorrowing Virgin Mary is youthful, possibly in her teens. In my humble opinion, Michelangelo’s intention was to depict Mary holding the dead body of her father, and he did a great job. The three figures of trinity is a confusing concept(?).

Michelangelo was so pleased with the sculpture that he carved his name right across Madonna’s breasts. Pietà is the only work that was signed by him. Pietà is nowadays on display in St. Peter’s Basilica behind a bulletproof acrylic glass panel. Some extra protection is required because the sculpture has attracted many vandals. In 1972 Mary’s nose was chopped off by a guy who claimed to be Jesus Christ himself. This incident led to the first successful nose job when Mary’s nose was reconstructed from a block cut out of her buttocks. Michael Jackson tried the same trick, but with less success.